An investigation by the Forest Practices Board of 216 bridges on forestry roads across the province has resulted in some unsettling findings.
The investigation looked at 216 bridges over three years and not only found non-compliance with legislation but also over two dozen bridges which may not be safe for industrial use.
The bridges were from the Chilliwack, Vanderhoof, Rocky Mountain, Okanogan Shuswap and Cariboo Chilcotin districts and the study looked specifically at bridges constructed since January 2010.
A full 19 bridges were deemed unsafe, another 13 were questionable. The release said 40 per cent of the bridges did not have complete plans and for 74 bridges, the required sign-off to show the bridge was designed and built correctly was never completed.
“The board was concerned with the growing number of instances of unsafe bridges showing up in recent audits, and so we did this investigation to find out the extent of the problem,” said Tim Ryan, board chair.
“What we found is highly disturbing, given the emphasis government and industry have placed on safety in recent years.”
The problem lies not with the legislation, said the release, but with some professionals in the industry not meeting expected standards.
“We are recommending that the professional associations that govern foresters and engineers take action to improve performance by their members, said Ryan. “We also suggest that licensees ensure their bridges are safe and government compliance and enforcement staff increase their attention to bridge safety.”